Originally, I felt some hesitation towards it, because of the length of it and wondered if the pacing would keep my interest in reading. Also, unfortunately, some of the reviews (just glanced at) didn’t express a lot of love for this 18th in the series. Yet, these hesitations were easily put to rest. I learned, fairly early on, Just One Evil Act was going to evolve into two mysteries – a kidnapping and a murder – involving the same characters taking place in parallel time. The pacing was just right and there weren’t any feelings of fatigue or boredom. That’s quite an accomplishment for the 700+ page novel! However, while I cannot say there wasn’t a high level of frustration with Detective Sergeant Havers for her damning behaviour in this story, I did understand her actions were due to her feelings for her neighbour, Taymalluh Azhar and his daughter, Hadiyyah. There was continued frustration as well with George’s heavy use of Italian, that for the most part went untranslated throughout. Yet, George does put it all to bed quite neatly in the end for a very satisfying read.
Here’s the synopsis of Just One Evil Act, which features the regular cast of characters Lynley fans are quite familiar with:
When Hadiyyah Upman disappears from London in the company of her mother, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is as devastated as the girl’s father. They are her close friends as well as neighbours, but since the child is with her mother, nothing can be done. Five months later, Hadiyyah is kidnapped from an open air market in Lucca, Italy, and this triggers an investigation in the full glare of the media spotlight. Barbara’s clever manipulation of the worst of London’s tabloids forces New Scotland Yard to become involved. But rather than Barbara herself, her superior officer DI Thomas Lynley is assigned to handle a situation made delicate by racial issues, language difficulties, and the determination of an Italian magistrate to arrest and convict someone – anyone – for the crime. (via Goodreads)
While Lynley does not feature as prominently in Just One Evil Act, he is shown to be rising from the ashes and depths of his loss of his beloved, Helen. This is much of the focus for when Thomas is on the pages and I quite loved it. Slowly, very slowly he is developing a fondness and relationship with Daidre, the woman we met in the previous book, “Believing the Lie”. Daidre is quite unlike Helen, but Thomas finds himself wishing to spend more and more time with her and has now started to remember Helen in a manner that is no longer filled with searing pain and loss. He also is the inspector sent, much to Havers dismay, to Italy to act as liaison and his new found relationship with the Italian inspector, Salvatore, makes for a good read.
Havers is indeed infuriating in this instalment, more so than her usual slovenly self doles out, and she is looking to be headed towards a right proper sacking from Scotland Yard. This instalment appears to be more of a “Detective Sergeant Havers” series but it is due to the characters at the centre of this murder mystery. And, throughout her increasingly astonishing stupidity, Lynley is allowing it to continue with cautionary and watchful eyes. But, as things become buttoned up and drawn to a close, it was indeed all done for solid reasons (so forgiveness for the agonizing frustration is granted).
While many have railed on Elizabeth George for floundering around in the Inspector Lynley series, my fondness only grows. Credit must be given to an author that can continue to propel solid mysteries forward and evolve its characters through to the 18th instalment in a series. Once again, and like always, I look forward to the next! 4-stars from me.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Dutton for advancing a copy of Just One Evil Act. It was a PDF so it wasn’t going to work – no way could a 700+ page PDF be done. 😉 I ended up purchasing the hard cover because, well, I have almost all of this series in hard cover for my own collection, so it only made sense to add this one to it as well.